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Ezra Miller: From blockbuster star to alleged kidnapper | Culture

The Flash star holds kids captive in gun-filled farmhouse,” blared the headlines. But even after reading the news accounts of the latest allegations against Ezra Miller, the actor’s behavior is still hard to fathom. Known for their roles [Miller, who came out as queer in 2012, uses they/them pronouns] in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Fantastic Beasts, the American actor’s run-ins with the law include assaults, arrests and reports of alleged child theft. Every new headline only raises more questions about the erratic actor. What’s going through their mind? Where are they right now? And above all – how did they get here?

Ezra Miller grew up in an artistic environment. Their father is a literary editor and their mother a modern dancer. In a 2011 Interview profile, the actor said about growing up in New Jersey, “There was such an intense concentration of wealth, and such a low concentration of any actual human happiness.” When they were six years old, the teacher asked them to do a class presentation on their favorite book. Miller brought a blood-covered stuffed dog to class with a tape recorder attached that played Miller’s dramatic reading of Stephen King’s Cujo. The teacher gave them the highest grade.

“Art is the only thing I have. Otherwise I’d be long dead. I probably would have done it myself,” they told Playboy in 2018. To overcome his stutter, he took lessons in the bel canto style of singing and made his debut at age six in Phillip Glass’s White Raven at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. After that came film roles in cult favorites, We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2013). Then, Hollywood came calling with lucrative franchise roles as Aurelius Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts and The Flash in Justice League.

Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival premiere of 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' the film that made Miller a teen star.
Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival premiere of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ the film that made Miller a teen star.Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images)

“Queer actor Ezra Miller is the hero we need right now,” headlined the 2018 article in The Guardian by Elle Hunt, who said Playboy’s choice of Miller for its cover shows the world is really changing. Early in their career, Miller said quite matter-of-factly that they identified as a non-binary queer person, and their signing by DC made Miller the first out-of-the closet actor to play a superhero.

Miller’s flamboyance made them an idol on social media, and they mused in interviews on topics like colonialism, mental health, and about time as a construct. The actor confessed that they had gone through an adolescent stage of rebellious angst during which they “burned, broke, screamed, and hit things,” tormented by his privileged place in a world marked by “gross economic disparity.” Every appearance on the red carpet was an opportunity for performance art and Miller’s interactions with fans were often unpredictable. One day they would kiss fans like a typical movie star, and the next they would answer questions in gibberish, dressed as Toadette, the Mario Kart character.

Miller loves to talk about their farm and brags about watching the goats give birth. The actor advocated openly for the right to own semi-automatic weapons, until his publicist asked The Hollywood Reporter to remove that statement after the October 2018 shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

“I’m trying to find queer beings who understand me as a queer being off the bat, who I make almost a familial connection with, and I feel like I’m married to them 25 lifetimes ago from the moment we meet,” they said in a 2018 Playboy interview. “And then they are in the squad — the polycule. And I know they’re going to love everyone else in the polycule because we’re in the polycule, and we love each other so much.” Miller was talking about the polyamorous group, which they christened the “polycule” (polyamory + molecule), that lives with them on his 96-acre farm in Vermont in the US. Ezra Miller was undoubtedly the most original star of the 2010s by far.

A couple of years ago, the actor’s eccentricity began to cause concern. In April 2020, a female fan tried to dance with Miller in a Reykjavik bar in Iceland, and the actor reacted by grabbing her by the neck and throwing her to the floor. The video went viral on social media, although most of the comments dwelled on the fact that Iceland had not imposed social distancing and mask requirements in the middle of the first Covid wave.

In March 2022, Miller was arrested for disturbing the peace at a bar in Hawaii. According to witnesses, the actor lost their temper when some people started singing karaoke. Miller began yelling obscenities, spat at a man playing darts and snatched the microphone away from the singer.

Actor Ezra Miller.
Actor Ezra Miller.Samir Hussein

The actor was released from jail after a couple of friends posted the $500 (€480) bail. But a few hours later, the couple that had posted bail sought a restraining order against Miller, claiming that they had injured them with a chair, stolen a wallet and was refusing to leave their home. Miller had 10 altercations with the police during the few months they spent in Hawaii. Miller’s companion on that vacation was a 18-year-old woman named Gibson Iron Eyes, whose parents accused Miller in June of preventing them from seeing their daughter. Miller met Iron Eyes in 2016 at a demonstration against an oil pipeline construction project running through Sioux land. At the time, Miller was 23 and she was only 12 years old. Her parents claim Miller is endangering their daughter’s health by giving her alcohol, marijuana and LSD. Gibson is 18, but is still legally dependent on her parents under Sioux tribal law.

After going to Miller’s Vermont farm where their daughter currently resides, Gibson’s parents discovered that she had bruises on her body, and had no ID card, car keys, bank card, or cellphone. They began to suspect that she was being held against her will and reported Miller to the police. “Ezra uses violence, intimidation, threat of violence, fear, paranoia, delusions, and drugs to hold sway over a young adolescent Tokata,” reported the Los Angeles Times about the parents’ court filing that uses their daughter’s birth name.

Ezra Miller, on the red carpet at the New York Met Gala in 2019.
Ezra Miller, on the red carpet at the New York Met Gala in 2019.Karwai Tang (Getty Images)

Gibson Iron Eyes has declared her independence on Instagram, and claims to be mentally stable and happy making her own decisions. She calls Miller a “comrade” who is helping her, and accuses her parents of transphobia, claiming that they are the ones guilty of “emotional and psychological manipulation.” The court has not served Miller with the complaint because it can’t find the actor, who has a July 12 deadline to appear before the judge.

On June 16, a Massachusetts woman obtained a restraining order against Miller, who she claims behaved inappropriately with her 12-year-old son. The boy, who also identifies as non-binary, told The Daily Beast that Miller made him feel “uncomfortable” by inappropriate hugging and touching. “It made me nervous and scared because he yelled at my mom,” said the boy. His mother claims that in February, Miller showed up drunk at her home wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a gun. Your son is “an elevated being, and would be lucky to have someone like me guide them,” yelled Miller.

On June 23, Rolling Stone revealed that three children between the ages of one and five live surrounded by guns at Miller’s Vermont farm. In March, Miller met a 25-year-old woman in Hawaii and invited her to move to the farm with her children. But the father said that he has not seen his children since Miller secretly took them in March. However, the mother says that Miller rescued her from a violent relationship. “He has given me a safe space for my three children – his farm is a safe haven for us,” she said. Regarding the guns, she says they are “for self-defense,” and that they are kept in a separate room where the children aren’t allowed. But Rolling Stone reporter Cheyenne Roundtree claims to have seen videos showing at least eight submachine guns, rifles, and revolvers scattered around the living room. Two others reported seeing a baby put a bullet in his mouth. On May 16, a Vermont social worker visited the estate and reported that the children “looked good,” although she recommended follow-up visits.

Warner Bros., the studio behind The Flash and Fantastic Beasts, has called several emergency meetings to decide how to deal with the Miller scandal, but so far has not changed the June 2023 release date for its $200 million blockbuster, The Flash. According to Deadline, other projects in development with Miller have been put on hold.

Ezra Miller and their team have not made any statements about the allegations. Miller deleted their Instagram account shortly after posting memes that seemed to mock the court’s attempt to find them – ”You cannot touch me I am in another universe” and “Message from another dimension.”

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Bruce Willis’s daughter Tallulah: ‘While I was wrapped up in my body dysmorphia, my dad was quietly struggling’ | Culture

Bruch Willis’s family announced in March 2022 that the actor suffered from aphasia, a brain disease that affects speech, which has forced him to abandon his Hollywood career. A year later, his loved ones publicly shared that the symptom is a characteristic of the frontotemporal dementia that the actor suffers, a progressive neurological disorder that causes his cognition and behavior to decay day after day, as his daughter Tallulah Willis relates in a text she wrote for Vogue. “I’ve known that something was wrong for a long time,” says the youngest of the actor’s three daughters with Demi Moore. “It started out with a kind of vague unresponsiveness,” writes Tallulah, also an actress. “Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally. He had had two babies with my stepmother, Emma Heming Willis, and I thought he’d lost interest in me.”

Tallulah opens up in the text, admitting that she has “met Bruce’s decline in recent years with a share of avoidance and denial” that she isn’t proud of. “The truth is that I was too sick myself to handle it,” she explains, enumerating the disorders she has experienced throughout her life, including anorexia, depression and ADHD. “While I was wrapped up in my body dysmorphia, flaunting it on Instagram, my dad was quietly struggling. All kinds of cognitive testing was being conducted, but we didn’t have an acronym yet,” she writes in the magazine, remembering the first time that the actor’s illness “hit [her] painfully.” “I was at a wedding in the summer of 2021 on Martha’s Vineyard, and the bride’s father made a moving speech. Suddenly I realized that I would never get that moment, my dad speaking about me in adulthood at my wedding. It was devastating. I left the dinner table, stepped outside, and wept in the bushes,” confesses Tallulah, who last June broke off her engagement with film director Dillon Buss.

After going to a series of rehab centers and trying different therapies to treat her eating disorders and mental illness, the youngest member of the Willis-Moore family believes she now has the tools to be present in all aspects of her life, “especially in my relationship with my dad.” “In the past I was so afraid of being destroyed by sadness, but finally I feel that I can show up and be relied upon,” she writes.

Tallulah Willis at the GQ Men of the Year 2022 party in West Hollywood in November.
Tallulah Willis at the GQ Men of the Year 2022 party in West Hollywood in November.Gregg DeGuire (FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Now, she confesses that she takes “tons of photos” whenever she goes to Bruce’s house — ‘I’m like an archaeologist, searching for treasure in stuff that I never used to pay much attention to” — and that she saves his voice messages on a hard drive. “I’m trying to document, to build a record for the day when he isn’t there to remind me of him and of us,” she explains.

Beyond her father’s state of health, Tallulah also speaks honestly about the difficulties of growing up in a famous family, “struggling to find a patch of light through the long shadows” of her parents. As she writes, her world changed when she was 11 years old after attending an event in New York with her mother, Demi Moore, and Moore’s then-partner, the actor Ashton Kutcher. “I felt awfully grown-up and was very pleased with myself — and I wanted to see if my outfit had made the party pages of any of the style websites. So I opened my laptop and went to the usual places (this was the heyday of Perez Hilton; celebrity kids were fair game), and there I was in my tweenage awkwardness, standing beside my famously beautiful mom. Then I found my way to the comments, hundreds of them, the words just burning off the screen. ‘Wow, she looks deformed. Look at her man jaw — she’s like an ugly version of her dad. Her mother must be so disappointed.’ I remember how deadly silent the room was. I sat reading for two hours, believing that I had stumbled onto a truth about myself that no one had told me because they were trying to protect me. And for years afterward, protecting people right back, I told no one. I just lived with the silent certainty of my own ugliness,” she wrote.

Rumer Willis, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Tallulah Willis at the afterparty of the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis in Los Angeles in 2018.
Rumer Willis, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Tallulah Willis at the afterparty of the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis in Los Angeles in 2018.Phil Faraone/VMN18 (Getty Images)

Even so, the actress also recalls the good memories she has with her family, like the recent birth of her niece Louetta, the daughter of her sister Rumer, who has made grandparents of Moore and Willis, for 11 years the most famous couple in film. “There’s this little creature changing by the hour, and there’s this thing happening with my dad that can shift so quickly and unpredictably. It feels like a unique and special time in my family, and I’m just so glad to be here for it,” she says. Lately, her father can be found on the first floor of his home, somewhere in the open space of the kitchen, living room and dining room, or in his office. “Thankfully, dementia has not affected his mobility,” she writes. The advantage of frontotemporal dementia, compared to Alzheimers, she explains, is that it is characterized by lack of language rather than memory loss. “He still knows who I am and lights up when I enter the room,” she writes.

The actor’s third daughter speaks of her father in both the present and past tense: “He was cool and charming and slick and stylish and sweet and a little wacky — and I embrace all that. Those are the genes I inherited from him.” She is reluctant to let go of the hope that she still has in her father. “I’ve always recognized elements of his personality in me,” she says, “and I just know that we’d be such good friends if only there were more time.”

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Inside Sweden: How do foreigners feel about permanent residency tests?

This week’s biggest story for us came when the results of a government-commissioned inquiry into language and civics tests for permanent residency were presented.

Whenever someone asks me what The Local is, my short answer is that we write about Sweden’s news in English, but the longer answer is that we don’t only take our lead from the Swedish media. They covered this story too, but it was quickly forgotten.

But for many of our readers, this story has a potentially huge impact on their lives – at least for those who don’t yet have permanent residency – so we devoted a lot of attention to these tests and also looked into what they might look like in practice.


We also asked readers on Facebook what they thought about having to pass language and civics tests for permanent residency, and surprisingly many were positive. That’s also been our experience when we’ve asked readers about similar things in the past.

Many tend to question the spirit in which these tests are proposed – are they really meant as a helpful tool to make people feel more at home in Sweden, or are they just part of a cynical package to make life harder for immigrants? But a lot of people also often argue that asking someone to learn the language and learn about society before deciding to settle down in a place for good is not unreasonable.

Many readers also said that learning Swedish and learning about Sweden had helped them integrate when they moved here, and they encouraged others to do the same.

Some were concerned about the extra administration tests might lead to – both for the state and for the individual. Would they make queues longer at the Migration Agency? And why couldn’t substitutes be accepted – if you’ve already completed Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) classes or studied at university in Swedish, shouldn’t that be enough?

The most common objection from readers who got in touch with us was the sometimes low quality of SFI courses – yes, they’re free, but are they useful or a time-waster? It seems to depend very much on which teacher you end up with.

This comment from Alina, who commented on The Local’s Facebook page, sums up what the majority of people who responded seemed to feel: “I understand the idea, it’s used in other countries too and as long as it is well implemented, it can work.

“On the other hand, SFI is practically the only way to learn Swedish, which in turn is the most important factor in finding a job (unless one lives in a bigger city where it’s easier to find a job where it’s OK to use English) and integrating in society.

“So for me the question is rather: if the government wants to start using these tests, how much is the Swedish state then willing to invest in increasing the quality of SFI classes on a national level, so immigrants would actually have a chance to pass the language test required for receiving permanent residency or citizenship?”

In other news

A group of women in their 90s sat next to me in my café the other day. They were celebrating one member’s 95th (!) birthday and were chatting away in a lovely, thick, southern Swedish accent. Their witty banter made me smile, as did the flowers that kept getting delivered to the café, creating a little indoor garden around their table.

What makes you smile about Sweden? Richard wrote an article this week about the 12 things that make him quietly chuckle. It’s heart-warming reading, I recommend it.

There’s been a lot of talk about Sweden’s stalled Nato application in the past week, and I expect there will be more in the month ahead, as world leaders try to get Turkey and Hungary to drop their objections by the next Nato summit in mid-July. We talk about what’s going on in the latest episode of The Local’s Sweden in Focus podcast.

How would Swedes vote if an election were held today? A new survey has bad news for the current government (although the next election is in 2026, so they’re pretty safe).

Finally, here’s an oldie but goldie from The Local’s archive, which made me laugh when Becky republished it on my day off: Ten phrases you only hear during a Swedish summer.

Thanks for reading,

Emma Löfgren

Editor, The Local Sweden

Inside Sweden is our weekly newsletter for members that gives you news, analysis and, sometimes, takes you behind the scenes at The Local. It’s published each Saturday and members can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to your newsletter preferences.

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On second thought, it is funny: Comedians and philosophers find common ground | Culture

Spanish comedians Ignatius Farray and Inés Hernand perform at the Teatro Infanta Isabel in Madrid on January 13, 2022.
Spanish comedians Ignatius Farray and Inés Hernand perform at the Teatro Infanta Isabel in Madrid on January 13, 2022.Aldara Zarraoa (GETTY IMAGES)

Humor can open doors to new worlds and new ways of thinking. This is true now, as it was true before: contrary to popular belief, philosophers have used and studied laughter for centuries. “Philosophy was created as a response to ancient tragedy, and has many connections with the comic,” explains Lydia Amir, professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. In books like Philosophy, Humor, and the Human Condition: Taking Ridicule Seriously (2019) and Humor and the Good Life in Modern Philosophy (2015), Amir uncovers a largely forgotten philosophical lineage, in which Socrates poisons himself to mock his executioners, and Plato, famous for expelling comedians from the Republic, defines true comedy as that which unmasks one’s own ignorance.

Along Amir’s guided journey, we learn that Aristotle considered the proper use of laughter a social virtue, and catalogued true wit as the hallmark of a free and honorable person; that the Cynics wandered the streets in broad daylight, holding out a lantern to “search for an honest man;” and that Epicurus advised us to laugh, philosophize and take care of our home, all at the same time.

During the Renaissance, Erasmus wrote a book of jokes. And for Montaigne — who claimed that absurdity was “a uniformly distributed property” — humor allows us to contemplate matters under a new light, which in turn can help us understand how all things have different aspects and different shades. For his part, Spinoza saw in laughter a careful attempt, not to mock, but to understand human passions; while Kant described it as “an affect resulting from the sudden transformation of a heightened expectation into nothing.”

According to Amir, the gradual split between philosophy and humor occurred when the former became increasingly enclosed in the confines of the academy, and as a discipline, opted for rationality and a focus on analytical clarity. “Humor is, in essence, ambiguous, and that’s why we chose to leave laughter aside when it came to philosophizing,” Amir explained, in a telephone interview with EL PAÍS.

Now, however, academia appears to be opening its doors to humor. This spring, the Complutense University of Madrid, the Panamerican University in Mexico City, and the University of Kent in England have all hosted academic gatherings on the topic of philosophy and humor. “Traditionally, laughter was considered a matter of popular interest — like emotions: far from the purity of philosophy — but now the discipline is starting to come down off that pedestal,” explains Javier Vilanova, professor of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy at the Complutense University. “The old intellectual prejudice against humor is giving way to an interest in its cognitive and pedagogical strategies, in how we might learn to think through philosophical laughter,” adds Saleta de Salvador Agra, a professor in Philosophy of Language at the same university.

The initiative has been well received by students — an unsurprising development, considering humor’s unique power as a tool of communication, and also, perhaps, given the popularity of the figure of the comedian, who, as Vilanova puts it, analyzes everyday life and takes contradictions to “to the point of absurdity and collapse.”

The success of stand-up comedy offers a good example of Vilanova’s point: A person with a microphone, on a stage, who in a kind of collective catharsis can make an audience laugh using a dose of crude anti-establishment criticism, and poking fun at the everyday miseries of human existence. George Carlin, a star of the genre, used to say that comedy is the popular exploration of truth. Spanish comedian Ignatius Farray tends to agree: “The three fields that focus on searching for truth are philosophy, comedy and crime novels, but, as Socrates knew, and as his method teaches, truth can only be called truth when it emerges out of cooperative dialogue.”

For Farray, author of Meditaciones (2022), the public pays for admission to a stand-up show so that they can peer into the abyss and listen to a comedian say out loud the things we often dare not face ourselves. A bit like philosophers who seek knowledge in solitude. In that space, we are pushed to go “a little past our limits, to find new spaces of freedom, to do the dirty work,” he says.

During that encounter, issues that challenge us as a community can be laid out on the table, like when the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke about the brutal violence she suffered in her homeland for being a lesbian: “I took everything I knew about comedy, cut it up, and created a monster from that corpse,” she told EL PAÍS’s Jaime Rubio Hancock.

With merciless humor, comedians can show us how we are being racist without knowing it, why we never learn from our mistakes, or how to face death. As Farray does, when he points to the “unresolved existential tension” between him and death, and jokes that on his tombstone he plans to write, “I could see it coming,” and that to trick death, just before that fatal hour, he plans to “play dead” so that death will hesitate, as if to say: “Do I have the wrong guy? Am I shaking the same hand twice?”

I read Kierkegaard

For years, the Spanish comedic duo Faemino and Cansado have made audiences erupt in laughter with their celebrated skit: “Qué va, qué va, qué va, yo leo a Kierkegaard (”Hey now, come on, I read Kierkegaard!”). The refrain gets at something deeper than a good laugh. As the Danish philosopher once wrote: “When I was young, I forgot how to laugh… when I was older, I opened my eyes and beheld reality, at which I began to laugh, and since then, I have not stopped laughing.”

For Kierkegaard, the tragic and the comic are ultimately the same thing: a contradiction. While the former is painful, however, the latter is an incongruity seen in perspective and, therefore, painless. In this way, the person who views something with a sense of humor can find a way out: the person is aware of the contradiction, and doesn’t know what to do about it, but is also no longer tormented by it.

Along these same lines, Amir proposes an ethics of compassion through humor: her thesis is that in human beings, all desires contradict each other, and are incongruent with reality, which leads to a tragic situation where we react with complete rigidity. The comic sensibility, on the other hand, knows how to see and live with duality and contradiction. “Realizing this irresolvable incoherence can bring us peace,” says Amir, who invites us all to adopt a self-reflective posture, by ridiculing ourselves (“but gently, and with forgiveness”). A form of salvation — precarious, holy — just within our reach.

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